my 2014 - an Awesome Year in Photos

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

I can't believe how fast time flies!

It's like a few months back I was just busy packing my things, attending send-off dinners, one after another in Singapore. It wasn't a "goodbye" though but a "see-you-again" kinda thing. Then I was the hopeful and eager-beaver immigrant starting my journey here in Toronto. 

And 9 months and 2 seasons after, now I am actually bidding goodbye to an awesome year which has been filled with a number of answered prayers. In fact, my blessings outnumbered my challenges this year. 

I want to say thanks to all the people who stayed in touch with me despite the distance, praying for me as well as those people who passed by and walked with me in my journey here which has been wonderful so far.

Here is a snippet of my adventures in 2014:

Thank you Lord for being generous and faithful as You always have been!

Same Side of the Moon

Monday, December 29, 2014

Credits to the owner: Palentino

"I saw the Moon,
The Moon saw Me,
The Moon sees Somebody I want to see,
God bless the Moon,
And God bless me,
God bless that Somebody I want to see."

Credits to the owner

the Gift of Christian Family

Sunday, December 28, 2014

It's Sunday, Family day!

Today, I heard a beautiful homily about the Christian Family and I felt the need to share my reflection here.

I grew up in a Christian Family. We're raised by a single mom. Although ours is imperfect, I am grateful that she raised us with values that we'd surely bring to our own home someday. 

As per the priest's homily, below are the points I have gathered:

1. Christian Dating/Courtship -  As in the start of any romantic relationship that you pray will lead to marriage down the road, it is important to be guided in choosing the right person, God's chosen one for you. I always believe in the quote that says "a woman's heart should be so hidden in Christ that a man would have to seek Him first to find her." And the same goes for the man. Wouldn't you feel happy to know that you are someone's answered prayer?  Two people should seek for guidance in discerning for their lifetime mission partner. After all, a lasting relationship needs a strong foundation. One should find someone who has God's own heart, someone who will not only let him/her love and embrace himself/herself fully but also bring him/her closer to God. 

2. Chastity - This virtue is somewhat forgotten these days. Most of us are guilty somehow. We live in the modern times when everyone seems to take things casually, people are more empowered to do whatever they want and what works for them and a person's worth is not regarded as it should be. The priest highlighted about sex as a gift to be looked forward to within the context of marriage. The right man/woman who truly loves you will love and value you more than his/her physical needs. True love waits.

3. The Value of Marriage - Marriage is a spiritual affair. As the priest said, couples nowadays are into living together outside of marriage and testing whether it would work out for them. As opposed to just walking out if things don't work out, marriage is an inviolable union grounded on two people's love and commitment with God's blessing to stick together through thick and thin, in sickness and in health for the rest of their lives. Marriage is a gift couples should seek and behold. I personally believe that marriage is a one-shot deal, once I give my "Yes" it will be forever.

4. Lifetime Partnership - Married couples see each other as lifetime mission partners. They Respect each other, Pray together and Work together to create a home centered on Christ. The priest emphasized the importance of praying together as a couple and journeying together throughout all challenges and circumstances.

5. Family - The family is the basic unit of a society. Parents have significant and extensive duties in raising children to be good people when they grow up. The values that parents teach their children are the same values that they will bring with them anywhere they go and in all their dealings outside home. Parents should value their children as gifts not as properties, guiding them in their decisions while allowing them to be the persons they choose to be. Children must at all times respect their parents and value their guidance over them. Furthermore, the priest added that one of the characteristics of a Christian family is how they take care of the elders as opposed to just sending them to a far-off nursing home.

All these are really helpful insights to hold onto in my journey towards discerning for my vocation. I fervently pray that if it is the road that God wills for me, I will be able to build a Christian family of my own in God's perfect time with God's chosen one for me. And I shall commit to it everyday thereafter.

Miss Spontaneity

Saturday, December 27, 2014

I love the white surrounding I see.

A few days ago, I have witnessed the first blow of winter here. And man! Haha. I loved it. (or so just because it's my first time to experience it.)

One day when I was on leave from work I took the liberty to go out (on my skimpy shorts. haha!) and take my rusty baby out with me. I missed taking photos. And I haven't been out lately due to the weather here. I felt like a kid that I wanted to do a snow angel right then and there!

Now as I write this, it makes me miss doing crazy things spontaneously! Like those spur-of-the-moment kind. Oh when was the last time I did some random things or something for the first time? After all, my friends knew me to be Ms. Random question. (what's the connection here?)

So here are some of the things I wish to do anytime soon:

> Star gazing at Peggy's cove on a summer night. I like to lie down and just marvel at the sky and wander in my dream.
> Watch a live Raptor or Hockey game
> I miss playing basketball
> I think I want to do kick-boxing soon
> Do a snow angel like a child
> Go for skating 
> Travel alone (again)
> Catch a falling star
> Enroll in a cooking class
> Gain a friend from a complete stranger
> Save the World! (Imma super woman)
> Go back to Law School (maybe in a year or two)

And the list goes on and on.

I will definitely do one of the above soon.


my signature post haha

Fear Less, LOVE MORE

Just finished watching "Something Borrowed" with my mom.

Ok, I try to not talk about Love so often in my blogs but here I go again... 

Rachel and Dex have been buds in law school. Their chemistry was so good that they fell for each other. Rachel has always kept her admiration for Dex to herself because she never thought someone as hot as him would like her back. (Damn! He's so hawt! He can burn you up alive! Haha!) She could have taken her chance at love with him but one night her best friend, Darcy suddenly came into the picture and stole him from her. Well, she let her do that. 6 years later Dex and Darcy got engaged. Then one night Rachel and Dex had their time alone and suddenly all the hidden emotions just got unleashed. Complicated. But Rachel took her last chance at love by asking Dex not to marry her best friend. Had Dex too not made the choice, they would not have had their chance at their happy ending. So that's the story in a nutshell. 

The movie just made me now wonder about the things one would do for Love..

Don't you miss doing crazy things for the one you love? For Love? Don't I?

Someone told me lately that if I am not going to go on a date then how will I come to meet and know someone special. And it got me thinking. True! Maybe some of us have shielded ourselves long enough from the fears of our past. But hey, screw the past! This is here and now. You'll never know what's on the other side of the bridge if you don't take a leap and cross over. 

And I quote a lyric from one of my recent favorites:

Heaven knows love is just a chance we take

We make plans but then love demands the leap of faith

True enough fate demands a leap of faith too. Who knows that one moment may be the only chance you got. Else, you may spend the rest of your time dwelling on "what ifs". And that sucks big time. I guess I'd rather hurt a little too much than risk what could have been a beautiful love story. 

So I challenge YOU, Yes! YOU! To also do something crazy if not for love at least for a chance at love, perhaps once in a while. And tell me. I'd love to hear your story.

Decide based on Love, not on Fear. :)

my First Christmas in Toronto

Friday, December 26, 2014

Yes, it's my first Christmas here in Toronto! Plus, I'm now celebrating it with my family! This used to be  just a dream for me.

We went straight to attend mass after work. I felt the joy in my heart. It's like I can smile with my liver. (as per Ketut in the movie Eat, Pray, Love.)

As usual, Filipino Christmas eve dinner can never be simple. It always involves preparation for different delectable dishes cooked the Filipino way. I, of course did my part. I cooked my most requested fried wanton wrapper with the ground beef white sauce. Not that I don't know how to cook the famous adobo and pork steak. I just hoped I wasn't working that day so I could have prepared a more proper dish.

the tyne's dip. haha.

I was the official photographer and game master of the night. We started off with a group game - Charades! It was so fun coz they were all competitive and so into it. Then when the winning group asked for their prize, funny i forgot to prepare one! Haha!

After feasting on fried pork belly, pancit and stuffed chicken (nomnom), we then had our gift giving. I always love to see the surprise in the faces of the people who receive my gift. I like it when they like my gift. 

Today, I got a message from our priest family friend. He said he brought the kids to Jollibee and then they  went to Fort Pilar to offer a prayer for my family. I just called them because he said the kids wanted to say thank you. I am happy to know how happy the kids were. And though I couldn't be with them this year, I could imagine their smiles as I write this. 

Christmas to me is all about LOVE - the love of family, friends and above all the love of God. 

I'd like to believe that I got the miracle I was praying for this Christmas. And that's the miracle of Love, Peace and Joy in my heart.

Happy Birthday, Jesus! Feliz Navidad. 

here with my favorite baby girl, my niece! 

a compulsory Christmas family picture :)

Give "Love" on Christmas

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Today, I have decided to open myself up again. I thought it's Christmas and it's almost impossible for me not to reach out to some people close to my heart. 

So this morning, I hurried to work to get my last batch of presents distributed. They're of small values really but it delights me to send my message of appreciation across.

I remember about the same time last year, I celebrated my late birthday and Christmas dinner with my favorite kids in my hometown. Every year, I try to make as many kids happy as I can even with just the jolly meals they could feast on. I always get reminded of what genuine appreciation means through them. It breaks my heart to see a few of them eat half of their food and leave the rest for their siblings at home. If only I could give more. But their smiles are all I need to get me going and strive even more to come back for another happy feast together in the next year.

During these past few days I have been pondering on the best gifts to give to people I love. Yes, my primary language of love is giving gifts. Don't be surprised. I love giving gifts. It makes me happy. But lately, I have kept myself away from the people I care for. I have been out of reach. So this morning, a close friend messaged me saying how much she missed the normal "me". Another left me a whatsapp voicemail of her singing "I will be here". Messages like those warm my heart. Then I realized that the best gift I could share to my loved ones is myself, no less. All the love I could give in however way I can, be it through the voicemails I leave, messages of me checking on them or the corny jokes I would crack randomly. Ok, I miss my normal self now, I must admit. So tonight I prayed that I would never get tired of loving and caring for the people who matter to me as well as those in however way I can help. 

And with these, I shall live my purpose. :)

Finding Love Today

Monday, December 22, 2014

I am actually on my 4th day of fasting from all other media except here, my blog site.

I thought it would help me find myself in silence. Trying to be more aware of what's here and now. So today I resolved to be more observant and sensitive of my surroundings.

I went to Tim's to get my favourite breakfast - French Vanilla and Cheese Croissant. But on the door I saw an old man standing outside the cold street waiting for grace from passersby. I thought I could do my FRAK (Friday Random Act of Kindness) on a Monday. So I went to get 2 sets of FV and toasted Cheese Croissant. The surprise in his face was all I needed to get me going throughout the day. I said to myself, 'there you go Kristine, that's one reason to be happy!'

The day went by. And I wasn't really feeling well. I felt my right eye was strained and it hurt all day. A kind teammate asked a friend of mine who is in-charge of the kitchen to get me some ice to help ease my discomfort. They also told me to leave early and take my rest. And I went home at 5 straight to attend my 8th Novena mass.

On the train, I did what I always do - people watching. It's always been my hobby to observe people, making up their life stories in my head. So there's this one lady standing across me. She seemed to be so into her read. On the cover of her kindle was a 3R-sized photo of a man who I could guess is her significant other. It looked funny because it was a full-body picture but I thought that was sweet. Maybe she was reading a love story and would have needed a real-life image to go with the sweet scenes as she reads. Well, who needs a picture in her mind when she can have a real picture of the prince charming, right?! :)

So yeah, this is how I found love today. I hope to tell more love stories tomorrow. 

That's it for today. Laters Baby. 

Happy Birthday, Love!

Saturday, December 20, 2014

This year's birthday was extra special because:

1. It's my first birthday here in Toronto;

2. I am celebrating it with my family, my Mom is here;

3. I am 32! Ok, this one's not really something I was excited about, to be  honest. But I think I kinda moved on and I am embracing it now. Haha!

So I realized that as we grow older we opt for a more quiet celebration; a simple thanksgiving lunch or dinner over loud parties; a more meaningful reflection of the years that went by. Yes, when you feel this, it means you are aging! Haha. 

I hope to say I am aging gracefully and beautifully throughout the years. Cheers to more blessed years ahead! And thanks to everyone who went out of their way to make me feel their love! Mwah mwah, xoxo, tsup tsup! 

my sweet landlady gave this along with a hand-written card.

i miss my SFC SG family! and I love hand-written letters!

thanks my sweet Carrie for your thoughtfulness! and for everything!

my BFF Mel is the only one who can outdo me when it comes to surprises! thank you Loves!

my birthday cake with my name on it! my family's surprise. sweetness!

and the flowers from Heaven! long story! :)

Crossover to Vancouver (attraversiamo)

Thursday, November 27, 2014

While we were having our early morning breakfast at Tim’s in the airport, an old man just suddenly approached our table and asked me randomly, “does he still love you?” Much to our surprise, my friend and I just looked at each other and laughed. He then repeated the question demanding an answer. Then it got me thinking, 'I don’t even know if he did'. So I just said to the old man, “I wish!” And I smiled. Oh well, what are the odds?!

November was my least favorite month this year. Well, that’s what I thought before going off for the 2 recent trips I had. I guess you can say I am running away from something here in Toronto. Haha! Yes, you could be right. I was. But now, I feel like I have regained all my zest and hope for a handful of life’s surprises ahead. Woot!

Back in August, a good friend chatted with me. She asked me to accompany her to Vancouver. I was glad to be doing her a favor. It turned out that after the trip, she was the one who actually did me a favor. Just felt grateful I was able to experience a few more of my firsts with her.

She arranged for our 4-days-3-nights stay at the Fairmont Vancouver Hotel, which is at West Georgia Street - really a wise choice as it is right at the center of the shopping, entertainment and food districts.

We anticipated a rainy weather for this trip but we’re just lucky to have our first 2 days with the sun shining. For our first day, we walked towards the harbor near Canada place. On the way, we saw this Japadog food truck. I like their Butter and Shoyu french-fries.

We took a stroll going to Stanley Park where we rented a bike. Khine and I both agreed that renting a bike was the best decision we’ve ever made in this trip. We would not have completed the 10 kilometer trail by sunset had we just walked. The glorious sunset was really worth the long cycling. 

Lion's Gate bridge

We thought of going back to the hotel to freshen up before we head to a proper dinner. For our first dinner in town, we chose this Korean restaurant I forgot the name (forgetful me!) which offered authentic Korean dishes to my delight! Their Korean barbeque is like the one I tried in Seoul last year.  And one thing I realized about Vancouver is that it has a feel of Seoul to me. So really, if you’re craving for authentic Korean dishes, Vancouver will not fail you. 

I suggested we look around and check their pubs along Granville Street. We ended up taking 1 glass of drinks each – oh well, lemme correct that, I only took a few sips and ended up drunk right away. Sorry Khine for being a pain!

On our second day, we took a walk to find a nice place to have our breakfast. And boy oh boy! I am so glad we found Café Crepe along Robson road. I just love their crepes and the Lavazza coffee. We actually had to go back there on our 3rd day. At first dine, I ordered the plain crepe with maple syrup and the 3 poached eggs. The second time, I ordered the South American omelet, which got me interested because of the chorizo. Then we got the crepe with Nutella and banana for dessert. Ok, I am now craving for it as I write! 

Then we proceeded to the Grouse Mountain. It is so Christmassy up there. I felt like I wanted to do skiing but I don’t know how yet. Unfortunately too, we didn’t get to ride the sky limo, which we wanted to try so I ended up doing the zip line. Woohoo! It was an awesome experience overlooking a mountain covered with snow – all white.  Too bad due to my phone malfunctioning the video got deleted. Issshh.. 

Anyway, we went down to Capilano Bridge later that day. The place felt so twilight-ish – tall trees, flowing water, all green – yeah and for a moment there I imagined Edward and Bella jumping from one tree to another. It was a nice time to appreciate nature.

At night, we decided to visit the Vancouver Christmas market right at the Queen Victoria plaza. I learned that Germany started all these Christmas markets. They sell all these intricate handcrafted thingamajigs, which are pricey for me. There was something so lovely that night – I could see families happily feasting on their meals together and couples dancing and kissing everywhere. Not to forget, I saw a number of good-looking lads too. I guess this made it all the more appealing to me. Haha! 

3rd day was a rainy day. And we took it slow that day. Waking up a bit late, we prepped for Granville Public market. We took the Aquabus to the market and had our brunch overlooking the creek. We ordered the famous fresh-from-the-sea fish and chips and I had an organic coffee to go with it. There were a few good finds there. It would have been nicer if the weather cooperated. 

At night, I suggested we have fine dining. Apparently, I wasn’t ready for it! Haha! We dolled up for the night. Khine taught me how to do my smokey eyes make-up and ended up looking like a raccoon! Hilarious! 

Anyway, we opted for one of the highly rated restaurants in Vancouver known for its fine, great dishes - Blue Water Cafe + Raw Bar ! True enough, to say that the dishes are fine is an understatement – they are par excellence! We had the fresh oysters for starters followed by the Seafood Tasting for Two (dungeness crab and baby shrimps, scallop ceviche, albacore tuna tartare, smoked sockeye salmon terrine). Each of us had our individual main course – I had the Sable Fish and my friend had the Wagyu beef. The fish was cooked to perfection – the sweetness of the sauce was just right with the quinoa and edamame. The truffle fries were also delish! Reminded me of P.S. Café in Singapore. Lastly, we indulged in this sinfully delicious Warm Dark Cuban Chocolate Cake. That by far is the most sumptuous meal I ever had so far.  I give it 5 stars! 

On our last day, we opted to try the breakfast at Templeton as I read good reviews about it. It was a few blocks away from our hotel. And the walk going there on a rainy morning paid off. The place had a 50’s style diner with jukeboxes on each table. I love the fact that they serve organic food. I ordered the Hakai omelet, which came with rosemary potato on the side.  Happy tummy!

We then headed to Gastown to do some last-minute shopping for pasalubong then to the shopping district along Robson street later that day. And oh by the way, my craving for Carl’s Jr.’s Portobello Mushroom just got served! I could never finish any other humongous burger like that!

Ok, so 3 things I realized from this trip:

1.     I love eating. I had stopped wanting to eat a good portion of food since I became too health and body conscious. But yes, whenever I am on travel – forget it – I am going to have a short-term affair with my food.

2.     Traveling soothes my heart. Haha! Well, I guess traveling is my most expensive therapy. And I hope I don’t get any more heart-aches as they could cost me all my savings! But yeah, on a serious note, ultimately, traveling helps me become a better person after each time regardless of the state of my heart. Haha!

3.     After this trip, I could be discerning for Single-blessedness. Or I may just be enjoying my time alone experiencing new things every time.  Or maybe, I just want to keep running away and shielding myself. Well, they too often tell me to enjoy my solitude during this season of waiting. If I am really waiting, that is.

Thank you Khine for tagging me along and for putting up with my every-minute taking of photos. Haha! 

Merci Vancouver! I will come back in a summer time. For sure!

onto our next adventure